Saturday, November 27, 2021
Nov. 27, 2021

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From the Newsroom: Turning focus to our photo staff

By , Columbian Editor

One of the best things about being an editor at The Columbian is seeing and selecting the incredible images taken by our three photojournalists. We get to see these photographs in high resolution on a big screen. Crisp and sharp, they can tell the story at a glance, without the assistance of a headline or a caption.

Now you have a chance to see these photos the same way we do in the newsroom. For the first time, we’re going to try a “Photos of the Year” presentation.

The event will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, at WareHouse ’23, the old Red Lion restaurant next to the Interstate 5 Bridge. Restaurateur Mark Matthias has generously donated the space so we can offer this program for free. Thanks, Mark!

Photo Editor Amanda Cowan came up with the idea. She has a lot of contacts in the news business, and she was aware of some other newspapers that have offered similar photo nights. They seem to be popular with readers.

The plan is for Amanda and our two staff photographers, Alisha Jucevic and Nathan Howard, to select a variety of their favorite images that have appeared in print and online this year. They will show them and talk a little bit about how they got the photo. Some of the photos will be happy, many will be thought-provoking, and a few may be sad or disturbing.

I expect they’ll talk about how they composed the picture, how they tried to make sure the photo accurately reflected the content of the story and how they chose it from the dozens — perhaps hundreds — of frames they shot for that particular assignment.

I also expect they’ll be really nervous! Public speaking is hardly a newspaper journalist’s biggest strength, so be prepared for an honest, insider’s look at how they do their jobs every day.

I can promise you’ll see some of the finest photojournalism in the Pacific Northwest.

Just this year, Amanda took first place in a five-state region in the Society of Professional Journalists’ sports feature contest. She also won awards this year from the Associated Press and the National Press Photographers Association.

Alisha has won 10 awards so far this year, including the Associated Press’ regional Cowles Cup award for her work documenting the efforts of a local boy, Austin Justin, who is overcoming a genetic disorder and learning to stand and walk. I know she is planning to share several photos of Austin and talk about the many weeks of work spent on this special project.

Nathan just joined us in June, so he has barely had enough time for his work at The Columbian to be honored. But he already has received two monthly awards for portrait photography from the NPPA, and I am certain that, with more than 1,600 Columbian photos already in his portfolio, that he will be winning more honors soon.

Photojournalists probably have the best, and at the same time most challenging, job in journalism. Unlike reporters, who do a lot of their work by phone and over the internet, they have to go to the scene. Once they arrive, they have to quickly assess the situation. Were they expected? Is the subject happy or hostile about being photographed? And, always, how much time is available for this assignment? Is it enough to tell the story well?

I’m hoping our staff will talk about these challenges they face as they show their work. It should be an interesting and enjoyable evening.